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Race & Social Justice

State reparations task force comes to San Diego for public hearings

Kitty Alvarado
Bishop Henry Williams and his son, Thomas Floyd Williams, outside the public hearing held by the California State Reparations Task Force at San Diego State University on Jan. 27, 2023.

"I am an 88-year-old slave from Leesburg, Florida."

That declaration by Bishop Henry Williams silenced the crowd gathered at the Parma Payne Goodall Center at San Diego State University Friday.

They were there for a public hearing by a state task force established in 2020 to study and develop proposals for reparations to African Americans descended from enslaved people.


Williams came to San Diego from Oakland with his son for the hearing, and told the audience about having to pick oranges "as a youngster."

He told KPBS he felt really heard today, and said reparations would be a little bit of justice.

He also shared details of a story his son had never heard before. "When I was 17 years old, people stood outside my mom and daddy’s house all night long with ropes to hang me," Williams told KPBS.

According to the California Attorney General's office, the task force is assigned to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans, recommend appropriate ways to educate the California public of the group's findings, and to recommend appropriate remedies.


The task force has already released an interim report detailing the impact of slavery and systemic discrimination in California and across the U.S., from violence to real estate redlining to poverty.

The public hearing will continue until 5 p.m. Friday, and then resume from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

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